Bluebirds of happiness at home in Rockford

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL

With a stern look, Daddy Bluebird seems to be saying, “Where’s the beef?” Actually, he was waiting for his twice a day offering of mealworms. Photo by CLIFF HILL

Once nearly eliminated from Michigan due to a lack of nest cavities, bluebirds have made a remarkable comeback with the aid of bird enthusiasts who have put up thousands of bluebird nest boxes. In these nesting boxes the female builds a nest and raises two broods a year.

For the second year in a row, we were fortunate enough to have a nesting pair of bluebirds in one of our two birdhouses. The second birdhouse had earlier successfully hosted a pair of nesting tree swallows.

Sadly our pair of bluebirds lost their first hatch of incubating eggs to a marauding blackbird but, on the second time around, they succeeded in raising a brood of four juveniles.

With a shallow dish full of mealworms, Daddy Bluebird is thinking, “That’s more like it, Mommy Bluebird and the babies will be very happy when I get home!” Photo by CLIFF HILL

Bluebirds eat insects and fruit and because of this year’s severe drought our pair seemed to be having difficulty finding enough forage to keep the fledglings bellies full.

Not to worry. As we did last year we purchased one of their favorite foods, mealworms, at a local pet supply store. We fed them every day, morning and evening, for nearly two weeks.

Easily tamed, bluebirds will come to a shallow dish containing mealworms. Seated at the picnic table on our deck, we took the accompanying photos a scant 5 feet away from the bluebird feeding blissfully on the deck’s rail.

In our experience, the male is the only one who comes to this dish. Sometimes he eats one or two himself, but most often he loads up his beak with as many mealworms as he can hold and then heads home to feed Mommy and the kids.

Our family of bluebirds has flown the coop having brought us hours of bird-watching delight. If you are lucky enough to still have some nesting bluebirds on your property, inexpensive mealworms can be purchased locally at Chow Hound Pet Supply on Northland Dr. in Plainfield Township (next door to Family Foods).

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